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Super Intelligence

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Sheen: I said, give me my free sundae!
Sam: And I said, there's no way you could've known there were 12,082 beans in that jar without cheating, yeah!
Sheen: I told you, I used a complex algorithm, based on the dimensions of the jar!
Sam: Uh-huh, yesterday you thought seashells were money! Today you're using algorithms?!
Sheen: Yesterday I wasn't a genius! Now give me my ice cream, monkey boy!

One of the more challenging superpowers to possess and write for, Super Intelligence describes a Smart Guy so mentally gifted or super-powered they can complete a dozen doctorate degrees in the fifteen minutes, forty two seconds it takes them to walk across a university campus.

Super Intelligence can be divided into roughly four big effects, which can be used individually or in combination:

Thanks to Brain Critical Mass, the Superpower Lottery version of this trope gives the character telepathy, telekinesis, and/or other Psychic Powers.

Super Intelligence is a difficult power to possess, not only because Intelligence Equals Isolation, but because it can create a pessimistic worldview. Since most super smart characters are already elbow deep in Applied Phlebotinum, the transition to Mad Scientist isn't a big one. All together, the fall into a Science-Related Memetic Disorder in the pursuit of science makes a lot of Super Intelligent characters become villains. It's no picnic for Science Heroes either, they can fall victim to the anti-intellectualism of those they want to help. Also, their brains tend to go watermelon-sized.

That said, a super smart character has the potential to radically alter a setting and even create Singularity-level tech. These changes can be positive or negative depending not just on their morality, but on how the setting treats science. If Status Quo Is God, then Reed Richards Is Useless, there are No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, and all of the potential applications are destructive. If it's not? Well, then expect to see wonders.

On the writer's front, suffice it to say that it's hard to write someone who is smarter than yourself by virtue of not knowing how to properly motivate, characterize, or empathize with them. Most writers get around this by treating the Super Intelligence as being only science related, and having no effect whatsoever on their interpersonal skills. Another potential hurdle writers cross is that, as an internal power, Super Intelligence has to be demonstrated verbally, usually through Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness or a Mouthful of Pi. Though a few plain spoken Super Intelligent characters might instead tinker with electronics or engage in sporadic Nerdgasms.

Super Intelligent characters sometimes overlap with The Sleepless or The Insomniac, maybe because their mind is too active to ever be put to rest, or because they regard sleep as a waste of time. Inversions of this are found rarely if ever, though it could be argued that a mind that works more would also need more sleep — as a matter of fact, sleep is known to aid creativity, memory formation and possibly learning in general. On the other hand, gifted children are known to need less sleep even as infants, and exceptionally high-achievers (high IQ or otherwise) are known to sleep much less.

See also Intelligence Tropes for more description for super intelligent beings.

Potentially the biggest "risks" of writing a character with Super Intelligence is that they become a Deus ex Machina or Einstein Sue, capable of solving every problem with no trouble, or a TV Genius who develops stereotypical "smart person" traits without actually demonstrating their intelligence.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A requirement for all high-level espers in A Certain Magical Index. Since they need to be able to perform insanely complex calculations in real time in order for their abilities to work, super intelligence is a given. Accelerator, one of the strongest characters in the series, was originally so smart that post getting brain damage during his attempt to save Last Order's life, having the combined intelligence of the 10,000 MISAKA Sisters thinking for him is only equal to half his original power.
  • Dr. STONE:
  • The Laughing Man in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is highly intelligent but generally not particularly exceptional in that regard. However his ability to hack into all kinds of computers is far outside of what even most experts would consider possible. He can hack into virtually everything through a wireless connection and even edit himself out of the perception of all people with neural implants (which is almost everyone) and covering his face with a silly smiley logo on all camera feeds nearby in real time! And he does that by just using his brain and neural implants (and probably hijacking poorly protected computers in his vicinity for additional computing power). However he's not really good with people and when his first attempt to use his abilities to uncover corruption and crime fails spectacularly, he gives up on trying to help the people and retreats into hiding.
  • This is one of the traits exhibited by the Pillar Men from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. They can learn languages just by hearing them for a few seconds and take apart guns despite having never having seen them before, since guns didn't exist in their time.
  • Jail Scaglietti of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, who's revealed to be an Artificial Human created by the TSAB high council and imbued with the intelligence and unquenchable thirst for knowledge of the Precursors from Al-Hazard. Naturally, he's the reason why several technologies in the setting exist, such as Artificial Mages, Combat Cyborgs, and Project F.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Principal Nezu has this as his Quirk, "High Spec". Despite being one of the very, very rare cases of a Quirk manifesting in an animal instead of a human, he may be the smartest person in the world.
    • Anime-only character Seiko Intelli's Quirk "IQ" makes her more intelligent upon drinking tea.
  • One Piece:
    • Tony Tony Chopper prefers his hybrid reindeer/human form, "Brain Point", because of this. It combines his human's higher reasoning skills with his reindeer's animal instincts to help him think in the most optimal way.
    • The elusive Doctor Vegapunk ate the Brain-Brain Fruit, which gave them the ability to perfectly recall every information they ever learned. As a side-effect, however, their brain grows bigger the more things they learn, with ridiculous results.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Leader, enemy (and in pretty much every way except color the exact opposite) of The Incredible Hulk.
    • The Leader once participated in a group of super-geniuses called the Intelligencia that pools their resources to do evil For Science!. M.O.D.O.K., the Wizard, the Mad Thinker, the Red Ghost and Egghead have all been members.
    • Fantastic Four:
      • Reed Richards is usually held up as the standard of human Super Intelligence in comicdom. He's made breakthroughs in virtually every area of human knowledge as well as inventing a few. He is useless.
      • Doctor Doom is almost as brilliant as Richards and is also a powerful sorcerer (Reed's sole blind spot is magic). One of the reasons why Doom hates Reed so much is because he can't accept Reed being smarter than him.
      • Reed's daughter Valeria might be even smarter than her father or Doom, and she's still a child.
    • Hank Pym is at times considered the smartest man alive, but is held back due to his low self-esteem. In fact Eternity once told him he would become the "Scientist Supreme" — the first person to understand magic through science.
    • Ultron, being based on Hank Pym's mind, has this as well, to the point he claims that he's surpassed his "father." And on at least one occasion, Pym's acknowledged this.
    • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Bruce Banner is pretty high up on the genius list, to the point that he's sometimes considered a bigger threat than the Hulk.
    • Amadeus Cho, sidekick to the Hulk and Hercules, has this ability, which is attributed to his "hypermind". He is repeatedly established as being the seventh most intelligent person in the world.
    • In general, and in no particular order, the eight smartest humans on Earth are stated to be: Reed Richards, Victor von Doom, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Hank McCoy, Bruce Banner, Amadeus Cho, and T'Challa. There are also heaps of others who aren't quite as smart but are still super-geniuses by any standard, although some of them are augmented in various ways.
    • In 2016, Marvel themselves announced that they would be introducing a new character into their universe, and that this individual would be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the smartest person in the entire Marvel lexicon. Who are they? A new alien? A being that's transcended a physical body? Nope — they're a nine-year-old African-American New Yorker named Lunella Lafayette. Everyone, meet Moon Girl. It's been stated In-Universe that she outclasses everyone mentioned above. Oh, and her best friend and crime-fighting partner is a giant red T. Rex named Devil Dinosaur, and they occasionally switch minds.
  • The DCU:
    • Superman and his Kryptonian kin have had versions of this at different times. Kryptonians have super fast thought processes and perfect memory meaning, among other things, that they can speak most languages. In a story, Superman was shown having a combination of super spatial reasoning and superfast calculative processes that allowed him to knock around villains in a precisely calculated way. In All-Star Superman the overexposure to sunlight that was killing him also tripled his powers including his intelligence. Other aspects of his intelligence (comprehension, creativity, etc.) are explicitly not superhuman.
      • The various Brainiacs have all possessed "twelfth-level intellects" making them smarter than almost anyone else in the DC Universe. The original Brainiac has boosted this ability through various artificial means, including the absorption of entire planets' worth of data.
      • His descendant Brainiac 5 (from Legion of Super-Heroes) has this as his only power. He has a "12th-level intellect" (each level of intelligence represents a separate thought track, allowing him to think about or solve twelve equations simultaneously), which grants him superhuman calculation skills, amazing memory and exceptional technical know-how.
      • Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen got this power on separate occasions. In both, it resulted in watermelon-sized heads.
      • Lex Luthor is usually referred to as a Badass Normal, but as the smartest man in the world (possessing, according to Brainiac, a "tenth-level intellect") he pushes into this trope. It's worth noting that if we believe Brainiac, Luthor is smarter than most Coluans, a species famed for their computer minds.
    • Mister Terrific II from Justice Society of America is also known as the third smartest man on Earth. Michael Holt is described as having "a natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes;" picking up complicated skills quickly and retaining them, such as performing emergency surgery on teammate Alan Scott after reading about the procedure in a medical text book. As Holt himself put it, "everyone has a talent...Mine is learning".
    • Batman, like Lex Luthor, is often called one of the smartest men on Earth; there's a reason he's earned the title "World's Greatest Detective". In addition to the usual trappings of this trope — vast knowledge of countless topics and supreme analytical skills — Batman's huge intellect also manifests in him being Crazy-Prepared and Properly Paranoid; he has plans and contingencies for every possible situation (there's a reason the Batman Gambit trope has that name), up to and including how to take down every single member of the Justice League of America if they ever turn to evil. Interestingly, Batman is also wise enough to know when he's not smart enough to do something: he relies on Oracle and Lucius Fox for all of his computer and gadget-building needs, respectively, because he acknowledges that they outclass him in those fields.
    • Since Batman comics were explicitly designed, at least at first, to be "realistic" superhero stories, many of the Dark Knight's Rogues Gallery have super-intelligence as their only "official" power; it wasn't until later in the series that metahumans were introduced. Examples include:
  • In All Fall Down, both IQ and IQ Squared were world-class inventors in their prime.
  • In Irredeemable, the superhero Qubit and the supervillain Modeus are the two smartest people in the world (possibly in the universe too). Though Qubit ultimately proves to be just a little bit smarter.
  • Major Bummer plays with this:
  • The titular character of The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius is a Child Prodigy with an Impossibly High IQ of 350. Not only is he an Omnidisciplinary Scientist who makes WMDs for fun, but he can also tap into his body's full physical potential via biofeedback and other methods, allowing him to go toe-to-toe with grown adults in fights. However it comes at the cost of leaving him physically unable to relax or even sleep, and he predicts that at the rate his intelligence is increasing he'll have gone mad by the time he's 21.
  • The Hypernaturals has two main characters gifted with a"hyper intellect" — Thinkwell on the side of heroes and Sublime on the side of villains. They are arguably the two most accomplished scientists in the known Universe, and them trying to outthink each other drives a good part of the comic.
  • Rising Stars has Matthew Brody. Notable for being smart enough to keep it secret and letting out just enough to make the money he need to fund his development. Once he's done... Well, he is not useless.
  • TAO, aka Tactically Augmented Organism from Wild C.A.T.s (WildStorm), is an unusually multifaceted version. While he's a Gadgeteer Genius and a master tactician, his most fearsome ability is manipulation of others, to Brown Note levels. Allow him to speak to you and you're headed for Mind Rape.
  • Jason from Jupiter's Legacy is incredibly intelligent, capable of building a superhuman detector that out-classes the US government's when aged twelve.

    Comic Strips 
  • Parodied (if that's the right word) in Calvin and Hobbes when Calvin brings his Stupendous Man outfit to school so he can use his superhero alter ego's "stupendous powers of concentration" to answer a history test super fast and perfectly. Well, he does do it fast and with confidence, but he can't suddenly get the answers correct just because he wrote them with a hooded cape on.

    Fan Works 
  • All The Way Back: Like all Alicorns, Luna is super-intelligent. She uses this for several purposes in-story, including integrating her Photographic Memory and X-Ray Vision to map out an underground cave complex.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, both Superman and Supergirl have this power. The latter states their advanced brain patterns combined with their super-vision is what allows them to hypnotize people.
  • In Holo-Chronicles, this is the main ability granted by the Sentience Trait. Towa's familiar Bibi has a somewhat rudimentary form of it and can already process information and calculate optimal responses at an exceptional rate, and both Anya and Roboco possess more advanced forms.
  • In Hottie 3: The Best Fan Fic in the World, Carmen is granted extra intelligence thanks to her three unicorn horns.
  • A Hollow in Equestria: Both Ulquiorra and Twilight are competitors for this title, each of them highly intelligent, and possessing extensive knowledge about various topics.
  • Sumac from Princess Twilight Sparkle's School For Fantastic Foals gains exceptional intelligence while powered up.
  • In Rebellion, this is what Kotoko has acquired over a small amount of time.
  • Xander from A Spark of Genius, part and parcel with him being a spark. Once he takes over, a large amount of the Romanian people gain incredible intelligence to the point small children can be considered credible scientists with their own labs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Forbidden Planet, a Krell artifact has the side effect of increasing the user's intelligence, though at great risk for Puny Earthlings. It's only thanks to the contraption that Morbius is able to begin to understand Krell science and the doctor realizes where the Id monsters come from. Even enhanced humans, however, are said to be morons compared to the disappeared Krell.
  • In Limitless (based on the novel The Dark Fields), an unemployed writer gets hold of an experimental drug that gives him increased focus, confidence, and memory. With these abilities, he becomes a financial whiz.
  • Phenomenon had the title character become super smart.
  • The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes had Dexter Riley (Kurt Russell) become very smart as a result of a computer accident.

  • Poul Anderson:
    • In Brainwave, Earth gets out of a Negative Space Wedgie that had been inhibiting intelligence for the last few million years. As a result, anything with a brain gets a boost — many animals get as smart as (pre-change) humans, formerly retarded men become geniuses, and normal people become superhumanly intelligent.
    • In the short story "Turning Point", astronauts discover the Jorillians, a race of hyperintelligent aliens who live as hunters-gatherers because they never happened to stumble upon the concept of science. However, when they start pondering about Earth technology... Days after seeing a wheel, they have reinvented by themselves ball bearings, carts and harnesses — the last ones having been invented by a five-year-old girl. The astronauts are genuinely concerned at the thought of Earth having to compete with spacefaring Jorillians in a few generations.
  • The eponymous character in the Artemis Fowl series has the second and fourth attributes, and the highest tested IQ in Europe. Did we mention he's only 14?
  • Danny Saunders in The Chosen has eidetic memory. He can memorize enough of the Talmud each day to satisfy even his father that he is on his way to being a proper Rebbe. He spends the rest of his time looking for other stuff to read.
  • The Cloak Society:
    • Gage, like his father before him, creates and maintains all of Cloak's super-advanced technology; however, both are given a low rank within the group because they "don't have powers." Alex points out how ridiculous this is.
      "Gage, look around you. There are weapons in this base that are decades ahead of anything people in the outside world have dreamed of. Same with our security system. And with our computers. And you are twelve years old. If that's not a superpower, I don't know what is."
    • There's also the Tutor, whose power is remembering everything that he's ever read. As his name suggests, his main job is to handle the Betas' education.
  • In Alan Glynn's The Dark Fields, Eddie, a copywriter for a small publishing house starts using an experimental drug which grants heightened intellectual, creative and learning powers, and enables its user to see meaningful patterns in large amounts of disparate information. On the downside, there's drug dependence and mental instability. Later, on the run from police and creditors, facing death due to withdrawal from an expensive drug he can no longer afford, his new career in high finance cut short by his increasingly erratic behavior, Eddie sees the President on television and recognizes the "alert, gorged expression in his eyes" of someone who's used the same drug.
  • Dante's The Divine Comedy makes this Older Than Print: In Paradiso, blessed souls are infused with God's understanding. When Dante meets his great-grandfather in Canto XV, the ancestor gets so excited he forgets to talk down to human level and Dante doesn't understand a word he says.
    Then, pleasant to the hearing and the sight,
    The spirit joined to its beginning things
    I understood not, so profound it spake;

    Nor did it hide itself from me by choice,
    But by necessity; for its conception
    Above the mark of mortals set itself.
  • Dune:
  • Bean was a very minor character in the original Ender's Game novel. So much so that the one bit of Bean POV we get in that novel is retconned in the quasi-prequel, Ender's Shadow, which is about Bean and his past as a genetically engineered super-genius who survived the mean streets of Rotterdam from about six months old. He is ridiculously brilliant.
  • "The Evitable Conflict": The supercomputers, called Machines, were built when the most complex positronic brain that humans could design created an even more complex positronic brain, and so on for ten generations. They are capable of reasoning far in advance of any human, and so complex that they cannot be error-checked except by themselves.
  • Flowers for Algernon is about a man named Charles Gordon (mentally handicapped but functioning well enough to work, live and travel by himself) who undergoes an experimental procedure that approximately triples his intelligence before it becomes impossible to measure. A few months after the operation, he's publishing articles in scientific journals about his own case as a co-author at first and later as principal author, once he surpasses his doctors. Then Algernon the mouse, that they tested the procedure on shortly before performing it on Charley, starts getting dumber and dumber and eventually dies. Charley's last paper, entitled "The Algernon-Gordon Effect", was written to explain why this ultimate outcome is to be expected and why there's nothing that can be done about it. When Charley becomes "dumb again", he remembers that he wrote something that will help "all the dumb people like me."
  • Victor Stott, protagonist of the 1911 novel The Hampdenshire Wonder, is a Child Prodigy gifted with the "super learning" type of Super Intelligence. Before his fifth birthday he reads the whole Encyclopedia Britannica and judges it elementary compared to his own reflections. Unfortunately for him, Intelligence Equals Isolation, as there's nobody in the world who could understand his thoughts.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, protagonist Flinx stumbles upon a species of Innocent Aliens on the planet Ulru-Ujurr, who are Under Edict by the United Church for no immediately apparent reason. He discovers the reason when he manages to communicate with them telepathically and discovers that they are capable of exponential learning. The only thing they lack is motivation, something Flinx supplies by offering to teach them the "game of civilization" in exchange for sanctuary. When he meets them, they are hunter-gatherers. By the time he leaves, they are capable of building starships that are capable of doing thing that are generally believed impossible (such as landing on a plane without their FTL drive destroying both ship and planet). Ten years later, they can tunnel through space-time. About the only thing saving the Commonwealth from annihilation at their hands is the aforementioned lack of ambition and that they apparently consider the whole thing a kind of game.
  • Known Space:
    • Pak Protectors are phenomenally intelligent. Humans are descended from Pak (we know them as Homo habilus), so humans who manage to become Protectors are probably even smarter. Brennan, after transforming in Protector, is able to create a super-high-tech playground on a deserted iceball out beyond Pluto, not to mention cobbling together a number of phenomenal weapons during a later running fight with Pak Protectors, while Teela Brown in The Ringworld Engineers deduces how Puppeteer stepping discs work, and how to tap into the system, based on no information except once having walked on one in the Fleet of Worlds.
    • Writing about Protector, Larry Niven said that the simple trick to writing super-intelligent characters is that they take minutes (or seconds) to work out things that took their writer hours, days, maybe weeks - the reader only gets the finished article. You're screwed if your super-smart character has actually got it wrong, though.
    • It is said of the Outsiders that they have tech that humans can't even properly describe, let alone emulate, so Protector-stage humans may not be the smartest players in town.
  • In Matilda, the title character gains telekinesis because she is so smart and underchallenged. Once she is finally provided intellectual stimulation well past what her age would normally merit, it vanishes.
  • Aeshes in The Quest of the Unaligned possess a mild form of this as a permanent side effect of their attunement to fire. In addition, they are capable of entering something called Haesh's Trace, which is this Trope given full throttle and with the gasoline spiked with rocket fuel. As an example, the main heroine of the book discovers under the Trace's influence that the theory of magic everyone has been following for the past 800 years is woefully incomplete, and a major part of the book's plot is her proving herself right.
  • Release That Witch: The magic of Ronald's younger sister Tilly Wimbledon just makes her hyper smart, able to learn massive amounts of new concepts in minutes and manage massive amounts of information. By the age of 20, she's apparently read every book in the royal library, and is actually rather excited to start learning Ronald's otherworldly scientific knowledge mainly because it's something actually new for her.
  • Yzrl, the titular alien in "The Sack", can extrapolate an entire language from a few words, tell where to look for a missing person, predict the stock market, etc, all purely through analysis.
  • The Dûnyain of Second Apocalypse have been breeding super-intelligent unfettered Ubermensches for thousands of years, and it shows in Anasûrimbor Kellhus.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Lifebinders can enhance any bodily attribute, though the protagonist doesn't figure out that intelligence is one of those until nearly the end of the book. When he does, he's able to make his mind work sixteen times faster and more efficiently than normal, allowing him to deduce solutions for problems that would otherwise take too long to solve.
  • Elder Great Family members in Sister Alice have their "talents", which are nearly intangible dark matter constructs that contain the machinery to give them godlike powers. Talents also augment their intelligence, to the point where the person does almost all their thinking outside their body. Sister Alice and other ancient Family members are described as living a decade for every moment a regular person lives, which when combined with their extremely precise senses and sensors, makes them nearly all-knowing to everything within a few light-minutes.
  • In Super Powereds, people with superhuman intelligence have only recently been added to the list of Supers. Two prominent super-intelligent characters are Mister Numbers, whose brain is stated to be faster than any supercomputer ever created, and Will Murray, a student with the potential to outdo even Mister Numbers, although he prefers to direct his skills to building advanced gadgets. Will becomes a Hero named Technomancer in the epilogue.
  • Several members of the Lambsbridge Gang, from Twig, have various forms of enhanced intelligence. Jamie is essentially a human database, able to recall everything that's ever happened to him in perfect detail and sort through it to find pertinent information, at one point identifying the families of one of every four people in a crowded church based on having seen and overheard them over the course of years. Gordon rapidly gains skills and is naturally charismatic, exhibiting significant intuitive abilities. Sylvester has a mental form of Adaptive Ability thanks to regular injections which enhance his brain plasticity, allowing him to rapidly gain relevant skills to a large extent, but at the cost of awful memory and retention rates. A fourth member of the group, Lillian, is a Mad Scientist in training capable of reanimating the dead at the age of twelve, but this is not superhuman, merely extreme skill.
  • Ted Chiang's novelette Understand is a rare example in which all aspects of superintelligence are explored. After taking an experimental drug, the protagonist can learn university courses worth of knowledge weekly, design Applied Phlebotinum in his head, execute plans like a pro, control his bodily functions by sheer power of concentration, and manipulate others with an ability that borders on Mind Control. The point the author intended to make is that superintelligence is a lot more complex than it's usually portrayed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On CSI: NY, the autopsy of a brilliant physicist revealed a sewing needle embedded deep in his brain, that'd been there since an unnoticed accident in his early infancy. It's speculated that its presence caused his neural wiring to develop differently from most people's, which may have made his groundbreaking insights possible.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor. Not only are they smarter than most humans and others they hang around with, they're also indicated to be this by Time Lord standards.
      • Compared to the humans he hangs around, he's a genius, which seems to have gone to his head a bit in the new series, as evidenced by his frequent reminders to everyone around him that he's "very, very clever!"
      • In "The Deadly Assassin" the Doctor is portrayed as more intelligent than other Time Lords, and when talking about a hacking incident (hacking into the most powerful computer on Gallifrey), said the Master was one of the few people skilled enough at math to do this, being "almost as skilled as myself".
      • He is also smarter comparatively to some other aliens, as in "Evolution of the Daleks", the Daleks (who are smart enough to have time-travel capabilities that rival the Time Lords) said that the Doctor's knowledge and understanding of genetics is greater than theirs.
      • The reason they are sometimes considered "average" by Time Lord standards is because he got a 51%, which is a barely passing grade by Time Lord standards, though giving how this is the Doctor he probably didn't care about it at all.
    • "School Reunion": Krillitane oil induces this if consumed, and the chips the students of Deffry Vale school are being encouraged to eat are cooked with it. Rose also gets some because she's been eating the chips. However, it wears off if you stop consuming the oil.
    • As mentioned above, every single Dalek is genetically engineered to be a genius. In one episode, it's said that a Dalek can make billions of calculations in a handful of seconds, which is then demonstrated by showing one figuring out a high-security number code for a locked door in less than a minute.
  • Fringe: The third season episode "The Plateau" features Milo, a mentally challenged man who was given a super intelligence booster drug (and then several more). Since the testing protocol required reversing the drug, Milo escapes and fights back. He uses a ballpoint pen to set off a chain of events so that the scientists, and anyone else hunting him, all die of supposed accidents (basically distracting one person, who distracts another and another until a bus swerves out of the way and hits his target). By the end of the episode, the effect can't be reversed, and Milo can only communicate with computers.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Norse Mythology has the Mead of Poetry, which grants great wisdom to the drinker. It was made from the blood of Kvasir, a highly intelligent man formed from the saliva of the gods.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Aberrant, in keeping with its comic book roots, has Mega-Attributes, which represent capacities above and beyond the human norm. With Mega-Intelligence, in addition to the standard bonus, a character can pick up "Knacks" that allow them tactical genius, eidetic memory, an instant aptitude for languages, and other benefits.
  • Naturally, superhero RPGs in general tend to at least try to have this. Depending on the system, a fair few actual superpowers may be necessary in addition to a high intelligence stat to get the full effect — for example, all that superhumanly high INT really does by itself in Champions is provide high default scores for those intelligence-based skills the character's player actually bothered to give them, plus a similar base perception roll. Anything else costs extra.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, a base Intelligence score of 10 is considered baseline average, equivalent to an IQ of 100. A 1st level Player Character can have a maximum Intelligence score of 18, and later augment this with items that increase it further. Then you have the enemy monsters- such as elder dragons- with Intelligence scores in the high 20s or 30s, a score that can only be accurately portrayed if a Game Master outright cheats.
  • A lot of elder Exalted and raksha have superhuman intelligence (defined as 6+). Yozi function as Intelligence 10... within their themes. Outside their themes, however, they are dumber than a sack full of hammers.
  • Progenitor: Includes typical Wild Talents hyper-mind, but ramps it up from there. In addition to the usual benefits, sufficiently high level Hyper-Mind characters can calculate odds to make insane amounts of money in no time flat, learn any language in minutes, look at global trends to predict the near future, and reverse possess people who try to mind read them without knowing it. That's right, their thoughts are so complex and intricate that when someone tries to interpret them, they become sentient inside that person's mind.
  • Scion does the same thing with Epic Intelligence and the corresponding Knacks.
  • Space 1889: there is an intelligence amplifier in Moon of Madness from Challenge 67.

    Video Games 
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: If the protagonist has the Absorbent Brain augment, their enhanced neurons give them the power to learn faster, granting them 10 Reasoning and a bonus 1 point for Engineering and Biology skill gains.
  • The Pokémon Alakazam is said to have a IQ of 5,000. This is more of a Informed Attribute than anything as it never been shown to do anything particularly smart, and IQ tests do not work like this.
    • Slowking are said to study the mysteries of the world everyday. Bizarrely, its super intelligence is only the result of toxins leaking from a symbiotic clam Pokemon biting its head. It's pre-evo is one of the most stupid Pokemon, and it reverts back into to this state if the clam, Shellder, is ever removed.
  • In Sunrider, the Prototypes are genetically engineered to be smarter than any ordinary human. Even without the assistance of their Hive Mind, every Prototype is a Gadgeteer Genius able to invent and build machines on par with the most advanced conventional equivalents.

  • Being a Spark in Girl Genius means essentially being gifted with the "advanced reasoning" version of this (but also being prone to Science-Related Memetic Disorder), allowing one to build Schizo Tech.
  • Grrl Power: Deus, corporate executive with a vague plan that involves building up the industrial capacity of a small African country and rapidly expanding it with an army of superpowered mercenaries, implies that he might have Super Intelligence. With Super Wisdom, Emotional Intelligence, Prediction, and Recall as Required Secondary Powers.
  • Molly and Galatea (and now possibly their little "sister" Jolly) from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! are both superintelligent, but less than one year old (although, given their fast metabolism, they look much older). Because of this they're extremely inexperienced and naive despite being Gadgeteer Geniuses and Omnidisciplinary Scientists — in fact, Molly's character sheet states she's supposed to be the opposite of Bob's "wisdom without intellect".
  • Mindmistress is centered upon this trope. The mentally challenged Lorelei Lyons can use an Upgrade Artifact to increase her intelligence to superhuman levels and fight crime (yup!) as a Gadgeteer Genius. When this artifact is used on a severely autistic, non-verbal person, he goes from building models to designing nine-dimensional mazes but doesn't start talking.
  • It's revealed in issue 25 of Spinnerette that Dr. Universe's intelligence is indeed the product of a superpower, when he and Tiger end up switching powers after both were caught in the blast of an experimental Power Nullifier. Universe gained an impressive Heroic Build from it, but found that his mind was slower to make logical connections and generate ideas, while the then-physically weaker Tiger found himself becoming overwhelmed with brain activity. With that said, Universe retained his love for science and his prior knowledge and motivations without this power, so he's still no idiot in its absence.
    Tiger: Universe, are you willing to trade back our powers as well?
    Universe: Trade implies that you have something of value, Tiger. As I see it, you're simply begging for a favor.
    Tiger: Then you haven't noticed yet. Your genius, Doctor Universe. I have it.
    Universe: !!! My thoughts... The cloudiness in my head...
    Tiger: Genius is a superpower. The brain is highly efficient, the level of C-K reaction to drive thought would be impossible to measure on any instrument, but it's there. While I'm talking to you, I'm simultaneously contemplating the physics behind the C-K mine, and I'm designing a portable cotton-candy machine to fit in a car's cupholder. Maybe I'll do a Kickstarter for it. This is exhausting, frankly. I don't know how you geniuses deal with the constant stream of ideas.

    Web Original 
  • Lovelace ˝ is about a high-school student who spontaneously develops this power one morning.
  • Orion's Arm includes at least six grades of superintelligence, each differing by the lower ones not only by greater thinking power but also by different cognitive paradigms (that's what's called a "toposophic barrier"). Trying to enhance your brainpower without modifying said paradigms is usually a bad idea.
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-2757 ("Dr. Wondertainment's Projector Fantastico™"). When the SCP-2757 projector is used with the film SCP-2757-1g Professor Abnormal's 101 Experiments, one of the devices used on the experimental subjects is an intelligence enhancer. The subject retains their high intelligence after the experiment ends.
  • There's a host of characters like this in the Whateley Universe. Consider Jobe Wilkins, the crown prince of Karedonia. He is now fourteen. He already has more bio-patents than entire research divisions of the United Nations. He has an understanding of the human genome that lets him do utterly hideous things. He regards every person he knows as an idiot. He invented a cure for dysentery that is expected to save thousands and thousands of lives every year. He is looking into developing a quantum computer using prions. He may be the most dangerous person on earth. And most of this isn't even using his mutant power - this is with his own natural intelligence. And his dad still resents him for being bio-devisor rather than a fellow electromechanical Gadgeteer Genius. Note that he is still only 15, and thus still acts like a Hormone-Addled Teenager much of the time, which directly led to one of her more serious mistakes (and if you didn't see that coming, you obviously don't know the series).
  • In Worm, powers that fall under the Thinker classification usually means this trope, although it also includes things like precognition. Of the ones that do fall into this category, we've seen improved planning skills, Photographic Memory, exceptional mathematical talent (more powerful than it sounds), superhuman multitasking, and making accurate guesses from small amounts of data.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius:
    • As might be expected, the title character has a mind beyond compare. He's mostly shown, as the theme song says, as "a kid with a knack for an invention", inventing gadgets and chemical formulas that include dimensional transporters, serums that can both vastly increase or decrease a person's age, Ridiculously Human Robots, candy so incredibly delicious that it reduces people to hopeless addicts, and time travel. Most of the show's conflicts come from Jimmy either overthinking problems and creating more trouble for himself and others (in the pilot, he develops computer chips to make his pants fold themselves, only for the pants to gain sentience and try to take over—it's lampshaded that it would have taken him seconds to just fold the pants in the first place), or his ten-year-old social skills clashing with his absurd smarts.
    • The page quote comes from the episode "Sheen's Brain", when Jimmy's friend Sheen, a Loony Fan of superhero Ultralord with the attention span of a fruit fly, is threatened with being held back in school because of low grades. He convinces Jimmy to let him use a "Brain Gain" helmet to make himself smarter...only for it to work too well, as Sheen develops Psychic Powers, a god complex, and a desire to conquer the whole town.
  • Moose develops into one for an episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries via one of Dilton's inventions. He mostly gets the speed reading and retention aspects, as well as the obligatory enlarging brain once he begins abusing it. However, all he really does is absorb and regurgitate facts without knowing what they mean or how to apply them, not taking the time to practice using it. When status quo is inevitably restored, it convinces him to take studying more seriously.
  • Ben 10:
    • Grey Matter from the first series and Brainstorm from Ben 10: Alien Force are both hyperintelligent, though unluckily both are portrayed as a TV Genius. We find out that both of their entire races have this going for them, and we get some bantering about which is smarter. And Azmuth, creator of the Omnitrix (and a member of Grey Matter's race, the Galvans) is as far above all of them as they are above humans. Problem is, he's very much aware of it. When they started appearing alongside each other, they underwent Divergent Character Evolution. Grey Matter was more of a saboteur and infiltrator whose knowledge was mostly in mechanics, while Brainstorm's intellect was mostly tactical and deductive.
    • Still later Ben picked up other alien forms with specialized super intelligence: Gutrot was inherently a genius at chemistry, Jury Rigg was a Gadgeteer Genius (when his stuff didn't simply fall apart), etc.
  • Richie got this power in Static Shock, manifesting as Gadgeteer Genius. Notably, it took him years to develop it, thanks to overexposure from the residual Big Bang gas in Virgil's clothing/costume from the night of the event.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Super Intelligent



APOLLO was an AI subroutine designed to house the collective culture and knowledge that the Old Ones had accumulated. ALL of it.

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Main / SuperIntelligence

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